There are tens of thousands of books written on how to lead remotely or at a distance. Why? Because it’s very difficult to do, and managers have to actively work on it.
Since it’s highly likely your team has recently gone remote, or you’re soon to make the transition, it’s a good idea to get a grasp of what will be expected of you and how you can make the best out of a difficult situation.
In order to help out, we’ve come up with a list of the top four things to focus on when you begin leading your team remotely.
4 Top Things to Focus On
When in doubt, over-communicate! As it is between the government and the public, communication is essential between your company and its employees now more than ever. During times of uncertainty, seeds of doubt are easily planted, so it’s important to keep lines of communication wide open in order to quell those doubts and put minds at ease.
It’s critical to communicate what’s happening at an organisational level too, including what’s happening at the company, with clients, and with your common objective. Communication surrounding this is extremely important, so share more about what’s going on in all departments—not just the one your team members are a part of—to ensure that employees constantly and consistently feel like they know what’s going on.
2. Be accessible
Ensure that no team member feels like they have less access to you than others; be accessible and available to everyone equally. You have a unique opportunity to lead by example and connect to your team in a new, meaningful way. So take advantage of this opportunity and, when starting out on this (new) remote work adventure, check in with your team members on a regular basis to see how they’re managing this new way of working—and living.
3. Connect team members to each other
Ensure that employees feel connected to their peers. This can be accomplished via virtual team happy hours, an organized schedule of one-on-one catch-ups, or a peer-to-peer mentoring program. The latter not only encourages meaningful and constructive conversation, but it also creates shared goals, provides learning opportunities, and builds a network of support everyone can rely on.
It also shares the emotional load that comes with leadership during these times. Just like your people, you’re human – and also going through an unusual time. Better connecting your team into micro-networks, mentoring circles or working groups not only assist them, it assists you.
4. Make everyone feel heard
When you run your group meetings, aim for inclusion and balance the airtime so everyone feels seen and heard. In your agenda, include time for everyone’s feedback and input regarding the most pressing topics. This will allow every one of your team members to feel like their opinion is valued by you and valuable to the company overall.
Leading in a new way in times like these can feel overwhelming, but you should know that there’s a lot of support in terms of available resources and people who’ve been there and done that that can help! You too can benefit from a mentoring program and tap into this rich well of knowledge others possess. Find a mentor who has years of experience leading remote teams—someone who can give you insider tips and help you come out of this transitionary period a shining star!
Remote work has been around for a long time and will continue to be practised even after self-quarantine has ended. Thankfully, today we have the technology to get our work done all while communicating and collaborating effectively and in real-time. Implement the tools you need to share best practices, learn from new people, store and capture data, continue important work conversations, and connect with one another to make the most of your time physically apart.